Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chickens Come First

Yesterday in after-school tutorials, one of my students, Danny, asked me where to find a certain passage in the play we've been reading.  He was retaking a test and needed to refer to part of the play.  Annoyed at his laziness, I told him to find it himself.  He became frustrated and said he had to go soon, but I remained firm.

A few minutes later, I heard what sounded like a bird chirping outside my door.  I knew it must be Mark, a student that makes the perfect imitation of a bird chirping.  He does this so often he doesn't even know he's doing it.  I looked up, saying, "Here comes Mark."  To my surprise, it wasn't Mark that walked through the door; it was Brandon -- with a box of cheeping chicks.  I jumped up in delight and began pulling them out of the box, kissing them and fawning all over them.  I didn't even ask why he had them or anything -- I was just so excited to be cuddling baby chicks for the first time in my life. 

Well, after a few minutes, my classrom phone rang.  I asked a student named Greg to get it for me, since it was closer to him.  He answered the phone and after a pause, said in a formal and apologetic tone, "She's holding a chicken right now." 

I set the chicken down and hurried over to the phone.  It was another teacher, whose first sentence was "He said you're holding a chicken?!"

"Yes, I was," I said, but she went into her reason for calling without asking any more about it.

Once off the phone, I went back to the chicks.  After a few more minutes of croons and kisses, the chicks suddenly began pecking at my hands, then at each other. It looked like the box was about to become a cock-fighting ring.  I asked what was wrong with them and Brandon said, "They're hungry!"

"Well, feed them!"  I said, distressed.

"We have to go get the food!"  He explained.  "I'm waiting for Danny!"  (Danny and Brandon are both FFA kids.)

I turned to Danny.  "You need to feed those chickens!"

"That's why I needed to find that passage!  Because I have to leave to get the food!"

"Put that test down and go get those chicks some food!"  I exclaimed.  "You don't need to be in here taking a test when those chicks are hungry!  You can finish it another day!"

He quickly put the test away and he and Danny booked it before I could scold them any longer.

Good grief.  I may be an English teacher but I'd shove Shakespeare in a ditch before I'd let a tiny, yellow, fluffy, cheeping bit of cuteness go hungry.